Tbilisi. The sound of this word is a beacon for me. It’s an audio lighthouse blinking me to a safe haven where I can rest and recover, where I can feel normal for a little while.
Note: My version of this blog consolidates the many acts of kindness we received during our three months in Iran. Lluís, however, has done an incredible job writing about all of these experiences in much greater detail. If you really want to see how Iranians are, please take a few minutes and translate his post, Però quí fa tot això? from Catalan to English (Google Translate may help). All of these things happened to us…they are all true… and we are still overwhlemed thinking about how good people are to us!
We have been so lucky to be the recipients of all sorts of kindness for 18 months from Thailand to Uzbekistan.
But Iran takes hospitality to a completely different level, something we have not found anywhere else on this journey or on other “normal” trips.
Here are a few special moments from our walk in Iran.
Thank you, dear people, for making your country so beautiful to us.
Aquí hi ha alguns moments especials del nostre viatge a Iran.
Gràcies, estimats, per fer que el vostre país sigui tan bonic per a nosaltres.
Ali waves to us from the top of the hill. We wave back, reluctantly.
It’s the end of our walking day, and we are scanning the desert landscape for a suitable campsite. We have our eye on an abandoned house on the flattened section of the hill not far from where Ali is standing. Continue reading One Moment: Those People
These Tajik and Russian words will long echo in our ears and our hearts. They are more than an invitation for tea. They are a way into people’s homes and lives. They are reflections of a kind of hospitality people in today’s busy world don’t seem to have time for any more. These words have come to mean “Tajikistan” to us.
We trudge forward. Hours drag on.
Each step brings us to another curve leading to a long stretch of alpine nothingness. It’s just us alone in the world, heads down and walking different paces alongside the Panj River that sometimes meanders a few meters below or rages through narrow gorges.
There’s comfort in solitude. There’s unity between the human spirit and the natural world. There’s also a simultaneous sense of bigness and smallness, being a speck in the shadow of mountainous greatness while having a heart large enough to notice the smallest rock sparkling in the sunshine.
It’s easy to get lost in these long stretches in between Pamir towns. The monotony invites a meditative calm, a peace that comes with moving at about three kilometers an hour. It often, too, stirs restlessness and a string of unconnected thoughts anxious for answers or impatience from feeling like we are going nowhere fast.
Thailand. Done. Burma/Myanmar. Done. If we were following a straight line, Bangladesh would be the next country on our walk. But, it won’t be.
Up next: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
BIshkek??? Kyrgyzstan??? You correctly may be telling yourself, “Why are you going there? That’s not even marked on your map!”
We crest a hill, round a bend and instantly become famous.
The family of about 20, huddled around a fire in front of their house, wave to us and greet us with big hellos. We smile and wave back. They start pulling out their smartphones. We start pulling out our smartphones. We are, hands down, the strangest thing that passed in front of them today on this back country road. We find them strange, too…strange in the way that makes every single one of us fascinating.
I take a bite of a sugar cookie and slowly sip my instant coffee. I feel safe and protected. We have been welcomed and given the green light to continue on our foot journey. I am grateful for the kindness we’ve been shown.
We accept friendship in whatever way it comes from whoever extends it. Today it comes in the form of friendly conversation, cookies and coffee from police and soldiers at one of the handful of border control checkpoints between Tak and Mae Sot.
We all want the same things in life, regardless of where we come from or where we’re going. We want comfort, security, good health and a better life than our parents had.
There are other universal things we collectively seek out. For example, we want to belong. We want to fit into a family or a community, or said more simply, we have a human sense of belonging to each other that we spend our lifetimes trying to satisfy. The flip side of that is more complex. In the same way we individually crave to fit in and belong, we also have this tendency to want to help others belong to whatever circles we move in. Despite what the headline news tells us about fearing “those people,” whoever “those outsiders” are in any given moment in history, there’s a part of us that cannot resist the urge to extend a kind hand and open heart to another person.
Thailand has given us a chance to reflect on this dynamic.